Joey Carbery unfazed by Ireland chance as fly-half deputises for Johnny Sexton

Ireland fly-half Joey Carbery has showed no sign of nerves ahead of making his maiden Guinness Six Nations start away to France, according to scrum coach John Fogarty.

By Ed Elliott
Friday, 11th February 2022, 3:54 pm
Updated Friday, 11th February 2022, 4:00 pm

Munster player Carbery has been thrust into Andy Farrell’s starting XV for the crunch visit to Paris as deputy for injured captain Johnny Sexton.

The 26-year-old’s 16-minute cameo in last weekend’s 29-7 win over Wales was his only action since fracturing his elbow in December and he has endured a nightmare spell with injuries since the 2019 World Cup.

Carbery made his international debut in November 2016 but has only started nine of his previous 28 Test matches, including three impressive showings last year in the absence of Sexton.

FUKUOKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 12: Joey Carbery of Ireland kicks a conversion during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Group A game between Ireland and Samoa at Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium on October 12, 2019 in Fukuoka, Japan. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

“Without a doubt, when you’re moved up to start, there’s always going to be some little bit of nerves,” Fogarty said of Carbery.

“He hasn’t shown any.

“The way we train is a huge help, that players can slot in and out during the week.

“He looks nice and ready, he’s very focused on what he wants to do – what a challenge for him.

“It’s exciting to see Joey in there and we’re looking forward to seeing it.”

Ireland travelled to the French capital on Thursday and will look to lay down a marker against the pre-tournament favourites.

Victors on Saturday evening will swiftly become red-hot favourites for the title.

The Irish have lost both of their meetings with Les Bleus during the Farrell era but are in “a better place” to improve that record this weekend.

“We’re very clear where we’re sitting at the moment in how we’ve developed the game, in how we’re playing the game,” said Fogarty.

“Are we underdogs? Are we favourites? It’s something I haven’t thought about, it’s something that we don’t think about too much.

“We’ve played France over the last two years twice. When we came here last time, we didn’t feel as ready as we do now, so I guess that’s the answer.

“We feel we’ve taken the learnings from the games we’ve played in and we’re in a better place. We understand that win, lose or draw we’re going to take the learnings from this one and we’re going to improve and get better.

“That’s the mindset and the focus for us.”

While the sidelined Sexton has made the trip and will remain an influential presence in Ireland’s camp, James Ryan will once again fill in as skipper.

Fogarty says 25-year-old Leinster lock Ryan exudes confidence and is admired throughout the squad.

“When things get tough, James grows as a person,” said Fogarty. “He’s shown that time and time again. He can dig deep and he leads by example.”

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